Bare Steel Shaving (repost from CW)

Blog Post
(link) CW, at Daily Timewaster may be the most experienced (in terms of diverse product knowledge) shaver that I know. Most people who identify as male, shave. But to some extent it’s become  lost art. I have reposted his shaving advice here (below) for the benefit of all of you. Maybe there are Christmas gift possibilities among his favorites?
The Shaving Post
So, for years – decades – shaving for me was a “get it done quick and cheap” situation. As fast as I could shave and go on to something else, the better. 
Then one day I was cleaning out some old boxes and came across my grandfathers’s old gear, and in particular there was his old straight razor – Swedish steel.
That got me started. Could I learn to use it? Sharpen it? Keep from disfiguring myself?
The process began, and after a significant period of trial and effort, reading up on shaving forums, and checking out the gear available of the internet, I was off on a totally unexpected adventure.
At first, and still even occasionally, there is blood, but counterintuitively, the straights cut me nearly not at all. I guess it’s the obvious nature of the risk that makes you instinctively more careful.
I had to learn all about sharpening, as only an edge “shaving sharp” will safely get the job done.
Now, I really appreciate a surgical Arkansas stone and a canvas strop. The edge you can create
with those is pretty frightening.
Now shaving is a pleasant ritual. There is no time pressure, and in fact the longer the better, to an extent.
It was amazing how much gear, both old and new, is available. Really quality straight razors were
 and still are cheap on the internet, due to high volume and low demand.
Artisan products are everywhere. It’s apparently cheap to start a small scale manufacturing business in your garage. The scope and variety of stuff out there to try is mind boggling.
My favorites for today only. In brushes, I favor badger and boar. However, synthetics are cheaper, easier to maintain, and are hugely popular. I guess I’m old school there.
Todays soap favorites. The Siliski Santa’s Pipe is a recent discovery, and is for now my go to.
The PAA bay rum is great for Fall, and the Fitjar Islands, from Norway, has a great juniper
scent. PAA doesn’t make The Wow Signal anymore, but it’s still a great light summer product.
Nearly all soaps these days do a great job of slicking up your hide for the razor. In the old days,
basic hand soap was what they used, but now there’s a blizzard of well scented, carefully mixed
soaps that can please any taste.

Cool straights. Second from the top is the grandfather’s old Swedish steel. 
The yellow Waterville pleases me because the steel is so well carved. I’s like sculpture. It was
almost certainly a product of the late 1800’s, although I’m 100% sure the handle is more recent.
The bottom one is a Case Red Imp. I picked it up off Ebay for dirt, but when I got it I discovered
that the seller didn’t tell that the handle was so warped it was almost a letter “C”. I almost tossed
it, but ultimately I bit the bullet and had an artisan I know pull it off and put on a red acrylic
handle faithful to the original. Now it’s a noisy but very good shaver.
Same with the blue one second from the bottom. It’s a Klas Törnblom, Eskilstuna made, straight,
that came to me with a trashed handle. Steel was still really good so I had the artisan put on a
paua handle. Now, it’s a stylish and very high quality shaver.
Finally, the aftershaves. Mrs. CW would have me wear nothing else but the Stirling Gin and
Tonic if she had her way. The Myrsol Agua Balsamica is my latest successful experiment. Good
stuff, and there’s a lot of it.
The Proraso Green is foundational – every shaver should have a bottle.
PAA’s Immortal Peach is light and sweet, a good summer product. Plus, the ridiculous over the
top marketing that artisan does to sell his stuff is entertaining. Immortal Peach? Oh, come on…
But, should you hanker for a bay rum, that guy has it dialed in. On his site there are multiple
varieties, all winners. See the bay rum soap from him above.

Next week, I’ll probably have new favorites. I’ve got a limited edition soap from Chiseled Face
on the way now that I’m looking forward to trying.
And that’s another positive. Most stuff is fairly cheap. Forego the Starbucks, and the money
saved will buy you a nice selection of shaving products to try. Plus no more coffee jitters,
which you really don’t want with a sharp steel edge gliding across your throat.
It’s a whole new series of skill sets to learn and master. Shaving becomes an experience every
morning, instead of a chore to rush through. The wife loves to participate by offering her opinion
on all the smells. In spite of all the colors and pretty packaging, she thinks it’s a manly thing to
shave with a naked razor. That’s always a good thing. Naked. Good.

18 thoughts on “Bare Steel Shaving (repost from CW)

  1. LL can you fix the formatting on C.W.'s writings; it is getting cut off at the right edge (at least for me – Firefox on Windows 7).

  2. Read his blog and have ordered some of the aftershaves he used. I have thin skin (just my face, now) and about all I can use is a twin blade disposable.

  3. Excellent treatise by CW.

    Over the years the Art of Manliness website offered a bunch of great articles as well…his way of trying to revive the art of shaving as a daily ritual. Good stuff.

  4. It takes more time and more attention to detail if you're going to shave with bare steel. But there is a pay-off.

  5. The only thing I ever used to shave was a Schick electric razor my Dad bought me when I started. It was a well-made shaver, and I used it until September 1973 when I had all four wisdom teeth extracted. I was so swollen I couldn't shave for two weeks, and by then my beard was coming in nicely, so I never shaved again.

  6. That reminds me, "Gotta get a Gotta" (famous in the '30s straight razor…). Used to use a badger brush years ago but don't now, maybe I should. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

  7. Interesting. I shave everyday whilst standing in the shower. Face and my big, bald head. No mirror – just by feel. Shampoo for shaving soap. It's utilitarian. Been doing it this way for more than a decade. I guess I'm still in the "get it done quick and cheap" camp. If it weren't for having to keep my face shaved to be able to wear a SCBA mask (for firefighting) I'd have a full, grey beard.

  8. Take it easy or you'll cut your throat… Or maybe ask that Arab woman to shave you and finish the job she started….?

  9. Sealing the mack on the Scot Pack is more important than having a large, luxuriant, fluffy beard.

  10. I have to admit that shaving like this is a vain indulgence, but don't we owe it to ourselves after all these years?

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